The council is to explore ways of enticing persons seeking social housing to take up residence in the west of the Cavan, including a suggestion of opening up opportunities to home-seekers in other neighbouring counties.
The west of the county has seen its population decimated in recent years - the last Census showing numbers residing locally of just 13,000. At present, of the 2,000 houses in Council possession, less than a tenth are out of circulation, with many in the process of being assigned.
The move to attempt to re-energise interest in living in the region came off the back of a motion tabled by Fine Gael Cllr Peter McVitty, who at the last monthly meeting of elected members, sought an update in relation to vacant houses in the county.
As part of his argument, he highlighted a rural cottage refurbished in the Doogarry area of Swanlinbar that has remained empty and several vacant council-owned houses on local estate. “It looks bad for an area,” he said, adding: "If nobody is prepared to take them, then sell them on."
But Cllr McVitty stated that more should be done to "inveigle people into the area. There is lots of employment there so that's not a problem. As a local authority we need to breathe some life into the town, it has suffered a lot."
Fine Gael's Paddy O'Reilly was of the opinion that it would be more important to bring properties currently owned by the council back into use, while it was Fianna Fáil's Sean Smith who suggested offering the houses to interested persons currently on social housing lists in neighbouring counties. “If they fulfil the criteria, it will be good for the community," he said, noting that a population boost would have a positive knock on effect for local businesses and schools. “There is a not a growing young population in these places.”
Director of Services Brendan Jennings accepted that there was “no demand” for social housing in the west of the county but stated that the Council is keenly awaiting a vacant housing plan being drawn up by the Department. This, he explained, would see the appointment of a Vacant Housing Officer and he said this would assist in “gathering data and getting a handle” on the number of available empty properties in the county.